My husband mowed the back lawn the other day. I walked out the sliding glass door onto the back step and was surprised to see a tree root right at the base of the bottom step. I hadn’t previously noticed it, and my husband said the first time he saw it was when he mowed the lawn. We were both concerned at the close proximity of the root to the cement steps.
We knew if we didn’t act quickly to remove the root, we would end up with expensive structural damage to the steps. We never have the proper tools to do anything around here, but he did find a hatchet and began hacking at the root. Once it was cut clear of the life-sustaining tree, he cut a hole in the root, and I filled the hole with Epsom Salts in hopes enough deterioration will take place that complete removal of the root will be easier to accomplish.
The root had shown itself suddenly and powerfully. Neither of us had a clue that it was there. Hidden to us, however, it had slowly been weaving underground waiting to show its power at just the right moment. I couldn’t help making comparisons to how Satan slowly weaves his way into our lives. We don’t even realize he is there. We don’t have a clue how close he stands to us waiting to yank us away from all that is important to us. His power is real and close. He waits unseen for just the right moment to grab us and bring us down with him. He waits for the tiniest crack in our armor.
Prophets have told us for many years to be prepared for the future. Preparedness in the temporal sense means food, water, and emergency essentials. Preparation in the spiritual sense is much more. We all know the standard preparation; prayer, scripture study, making and keeping covenants, and living God’s laws. I’m reminded of the preparations that Captain Moroni made in the Book of Mormon to protect his people. The first thing he did was to find the weak points and strengthen them. Each of us has our weak points. Sometimes we don’t want to see them or admit to them, but they are there.
Some people stray from the path because of difficult historical issues with the Church or with Joseph Smith. There is a chink in the armor that hasn’t been fortified. Instead of fortifying the weak area by testimony building scripture study and prayer, they cave in to Satan’s minions. They listen to the loud voices from the big and spacious building.
Others stray from the path because feelings have been hurt. The chink in the armor is the absence of tough skin and the ability to forgive. Instead of humbling themselves and forgiving and loving the offender(s), they become bitter and turn away. (This is the category I personally was in during my 20 years of inactivity.)
It behooves us to take a long hard look at ourselves in the interest of spiritual preparedness to determine the chinks in our armor. Then we can make weak things strong. (See Ether 12:27.)
It isn’t easy to look at ourselves with a critical eye. We are children of God, and He loves us with all our faults. If only we could see ourselves as our Heavenly Father sees us. He sees the chinks in our armor as opportunities for growth. Our weaknesses are stepping stones to our mansions above. We just need to be honest with ourselves about what our weaknesses are so that we can overcome them and build our testimonies on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ.
As my husband worked to remove the troublesome root, I thought about other troublesome roots we’ve removed over the years. There was my own inactivity. I was inactive when we met, dated, and married. He waited 17 long years to take me to the temple, along with our four children.
Another root was very ill children. When our oldest daughter was born, she had a lung cyst the size of a baseball, which required two major surgeries before she was 12 hours old. Another baby was born addicted to sugar because I was borderline diabetic during the pregnancy. Yet another baby was born with pneumonia.
None of our children grew or gained weight at the rate expected. Our healthiest baby was almost hospitalized at four months old because she was not thriving. We survived a miscarriage together. There was a time of infertility between our third and fourth children, and our fourth child is the product of fertility drugs. My stepson, who was a highway worker, was killed on the job in 2007.
Each of these roots could have caused us to say, “Why me? Why us? Why is God letting this happen to us?” We fortified our armor. We took each root apart and destroyed them. We were determined. We stood together against adversity. We ignored Satan’s voice to give up. We ignored his beckoning to us.
We fought against Satan’s voice telling us to doubt and question God’s plan. Instead, we trusted in God’s plan for us. We looked forward to a better day—a day when we would understand why these challenges had come to us, and what we were supposed to learn from them.
After our experience with the tree root, I don’t think I’ll ever look at roots the same way. That root will always be a reminder to critically look at the weaknesses in my own thoughts and in my own life, and then shore them up to weather the storms ahead.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents#.UYPhA6K.